In the aftermath of the United States House of Representatives’ approval of two articles of impeachment against Donald J. Trump, America’s 45th president, debates about the process wage on.
Undebatable, however, is the pivotal and important key roles California Democratic Congresswomen Maxine Waters and Karen Bass played up to and in the December 18 impeachment, political commentators, scholars and legal analysts expressed in detail to the Sentinel.
“In terms of Congresswoman Waters, she, from before the time the man got into the White House, was calling for impeachment. She was calling for impeachment and took so much backlash and heat, like people actually treated her like she was a political novice, like she was being overly emotional…the ‘angry Black woman,’ like they put all of those stereotypes and energies that they can put on us when we stand up as Black women, they put that all on her,” said Human Rights Attorney Nana Gyamfi.
“They literally, totally disrespected all of the experience that she has, not only, yes, as a person that has stood up for Black folks in these streets, but also as a person who has stood up in the halls of Congress. She’s not new. She’s not brand new, and they treated her like she was brand new,” Gyamfi continued.
But Waters, Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, never backed down, despite the virulent, derogatory, often racist opposition leveled against her. In her own words, during a speech delivered in support of H.Res.755 impeaching Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors, she said the day was not inevitable, but predictable. “… this president has shown himself time and time again to believe that he is above the law and has no respect for our Constitution or our democracy,” said Waters.
“Based on all that we know about Donald Trump, we could have predicted he would have abused the power of the presidency by ‘corruptly [soliciting] the Government of Ukraine’ and Ukrainian president Zelensky to publicly announce investigations into [his] political opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden,” she continued, detailing impeachment evidence.
Waters chided, it’s no secret that Trump could have been impeached a long time ago, and remarked that any other individual caught in the same predicament would have been prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
“It is shameful that members of this House are willing to disregard the Constitution, turn a blind eye to hard facts, and ignore a confession from the president himself. History will remember those who were willing to speak truth to power,” Waters stated.
“Yes, I called for Trump’s impeachment early. This is our country. Our foremothers and forefathers shed their blood to build and defend this democracy. I refuse to have it be undermined,” she continued.
It is with such fearlessness and determination that Waters has always sounded the alarm for impeachment, said Gyamfi, but there are attempts to rewrite recent history.
“She was there every time…on the radio … every time you heard her, you saw her, way back when, before the man even had his inauguration, she was calling for him to be impeached,” she stated. “I think that that’s very important, because when you hear what the media, the mainstream media is doing now, they’re trying say, ‘Oh. It’s because of the seven White women or whoever that are fresh people in Congress. They’re the ones who tipped it over to impeachment,” said Gyamfi. “Some folks have attributed it to our beloved Squad (four progressive congresswomen in the 2018 United States House of Representatives elections- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan), and they tipped it over to impeachment, but really it was Congresswoman Waters from the beginning, openly saying this man is illegitimate. I’m not going to his inauguration. I’m not going to his State of the Union, and just continuing to press the issue of impeachment,” elaborated Gyamfi.
As a leader in the Congress, Waters’ early questioning of Trump’s competency and capacity as president began to help educate and shape people’s understanding of who he really is, according to Greg Akili, prominent community organizer, social justice advocate.
“Her leadership role was very, very powerful and positive…,” he stated.
He felt much of Waters’ testimony was clear-cut, sensible, and got right to the point, that “..this president, for personal, political reasons, is engaging foreign governments to support and assist him.”
For Bass’ part, people are witnessing a person who has used her position and worked with it both as the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and on the Judiciary, which of course had its role in the impeachment process. She used her position to really raise the issues that needed to be raised in the appropriate, necessary form, observed Gyamfi.
She dissected the political warriors’ roles individually, because they were both critical, yet very different, said Gyamfi.
In a press release, Bass highlighted the urgency to move forward with articles of impeachment, saying there is no reason to believe Trump won’t continue to abuse the power of his office, no reason to believe he won’t continue to put his foot on the scale of his reelection.
“In many of our Congressional districts we worry about voter suppression and schemes that purge legitimate voters from participating in the election. Or we worry about Russian interference in our elections. It is a Sad day in America when we have to worry about the Commander in Chief interfering in the election in order to be reelected,” stated Bass.
“Elections should be decided by the American people. I will vote for both articles of impeachment, it is my constitutional duty that fulfill my oath of office…No one is above the law,” she added.
In the upcoming year, Waters’ and Bass’ roles will remain key in terms of doing what they’v been doing, which is speaking out, said Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston.
“The only thing I would add is that I would hope that at some point that our Congresspersons in Southern California would be meeting with our peers in CARICOM, be meeting with our peers in the African Union, be speaking to rally international support against this outlaw regime in Washington,” stated Horne.
“And I say this not least, because to reiterate the point I made a moment ago, the balance of forces nationally does not look very good right now,” he added.